McHale letter to Spectator: 10 Things that have changed in Caledonia since 2006

Hamilton Spectator, Feb 23/12: Gary McHale pulling a scab off a wound

Caledonia, 2006: Native protesters burn tires in the roadThis well-known Caledonia  agitator’s antics have escalated with this most recent stunt on the weekend. […] Anyone with common sense knows no good can come of pulling these types of stunts repeatedly without there being consequences. Gary McHale must quit pulling the scab off this festering wound, and shame on Barrett for backing this type of Caledonia, 2006reckless behaviour. They are bringing nothing but negative attention to the town of Caledonia and trivializing Six Nations land grievances. These antics serve no purpose other than to inflame a situation that has been on simmer for the past six years. Feb. 28 will be the sixth anniversary of this land dispute in Caledonia. And sadly nothing has changed. 

Tracy Bomberry, Six Nations of the Grand River


Hamilton Spectator, Feb 28/12: Ten things that have changed: McHale

While to some it appears inherently wrong ever to disagree with a native person, I have to say that Ms. Bomberry’s view that nothing has changed since 2006 is not supported by the evidence. Here are10 things that have changed since 2006.

1) Contrary to the Native occupiers’ view, Six Nation Band Council has repeatedly told the court there is no claim on title to people’s property. Judges have agreed.

2) Courts have repeatedly disagreed with the OPP refusal to enforce the law and have even rebuked the OPP for targeting legal property owners instead of Native protesters.

3) The OPP has been forced to accept that property owners do have the right to have Native trespassers arrested.

4) Both Native protesters and the OPP have been forced to acknowledge that non-Native people do have rights in this country.

5) Most on Six Nations have rejected the use of violence and terrorism to force land claims upon others.

6) The media has been forced to acknowledge that Natives are not always the victim of the evil white man and that some Natives are indeed radicals who commit serious crimes against innocent people.

 7) The myth that Six Nations people are not subject to Canadian laws has been shattered.

 8) The rights of private citizens to lay criminal charges against Native protesters, police and government officials is now well established in law.

 9) The general public has accepted view that the policies of the OPP are based on the race of the person involved and are unacceptable in a society that believes in equality.

 10) The greatest accomplishment of all, however, is that we have shown how peaceful protests can defeat those who prefer violence.

Gary McHale, Binbrook

Hamilton Spectator, Feb 25/12: McHale protest is about bias, not land

Letter writer Tracy Bomberry knows very well that Gary McHale’s protests in Caledonia have nothing to do with land claims disputes there. He is protesting violence and racially-biased policing. If the tables were turned and police were instructed to turn a blind eye to whites assaulting natives, Bomberry would be protesting that grievous injustice. And I believe McHale would be by her side.

Stuart Laughton, Burlington

Submitted to Hamilton Spectator Feb 23/12, but not published…

I would characterize McHale’s actions less as “pulling off a scab” from a festering wound, and more as pulling back the veil that the truth of this matter is hiding behind.

I understand that for many people the old adage about the truth is real, it hurts!

But let’s be honest Tracy, if there is shame it should not be cast on Barrett for backing a man’s legal right to peacefully walk down a street. If there is negative attention being brought, it is not reflecting on the town of Caledonia. Finally, his actions in NO way trivialize land grievances.

If you have the courage to look at the situation truthfully I am sure you will find all of the reckless actions, all of the shame, and all of the distraction from the grievances has been perpetrated by a small number of people determined to live above the law, and facilitated by a small group of law enforcement enabling them to do so.

The conversation that Gary is trying to start and that must be had is one about being a nation of laws and not men. Until we can have that conversation with some intellectual honesty, without missing the point so blindly (like your letter above) then we will echo your closing every Feb 28th when, “sadly, nothing will change.”

Jerret Jastal

Submitted to Hamilton Spectator Feb 23/12, but not published…

Six Nations resident Tracy Bomberry (Feb. 21, Gary McHale pulling a scab off a wound) is right about at least one aspect of the Caledonia crisis that, sadly, has not changed. For six years those responsible for terrorizing innocent people in Haldimand have denied the humanity of the victims they created by pretending they don’t exist or don’t matter — even to this day, more than one year after the publication of Christie Blatchford’s book Helpless exposed their depravities and the racial policing used to enable them for all to see. And now, instead of reaching out to to help us promote a meaningful healing process based on truth, justice and apologies from those responsible – Six Nations, the OPP and the Ontario government – Bomberry offers only more threats of more ‘consequences’ against peaceful people. 

I will continue to walk down the road through the Douglas Creek Estates with the Caledonia 8 as is my right until the threats of violence are no more, until racial policing is finished in my province. We have done our imperfect best to follow the teachings of Dr. King in order to — as he once wrote from a Birmingham jail — “…create the kind of tension in society that will help men rise from the dark depths of prejudice and racism to the majestic heights of understanding and brotherhood.” I think I can speak for the Caledonia 8 when I say we will continue to risk all the ‘consequences’ that Ms. Bomberry and her ilk wish to inflict on us in order to accomplish this worthwhile goal while we await a Six Nations partner for truth and reconciliation.

 Mark Vandermaas, London

VoC Comment 

Thanks to the Hamilton Spectator for publishing at least 2 rebuttal letters to Ms. Bomberry’s implied threat that the  victims of native violence might have to endure even more violence for peacefully exercising their right to walk down a road through the occupation site. They may not have published mine, but they did publish this one during my Blue Beret vigil last summer:


Mark Vandermaas
Editor, VoiceofCanada
Founder, Caledonia Victims Project (

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